Camping out in the desert is a little different from regular camping in a forest or on a mountainside. Deserts are not only extremely hot but they can also be very windy places and the temperature drops quite quickly at night too. Plus there is sand everywhere, and it’s not like beach sand, it can be a lot finer and dustier, and it’ll get everywhere if it can.
So, when camping in the desert, you’re going to want to use the best tent for desert camping. The best tents for desert camping come with great ventilation, mesh doors to keep you cool, plus they even block out the sun to reduce the heat build-up inside the tent during the day.
When camping in the desert, you’re likely going to try to avoid the hottest part of the day, and you’ll want a cool tent to retire to and save your skin from the sun.
At A Glance: Our Top 3 Tents For Desert Camping
We have rounded up some of the best tents for desert camping below, so you can enjoy your time in the desert instead of overheating.
Best On A Budget
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Best Of The Best
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If you’re on a budget then one of the best tents for desert camping around is the Ohnana Cool Rayve II Tent.
This tent is made for festivals, hence the Rayve in the name, and is designed to block heat and sunlight so that festival-goers can sleep in without overheating after a late night.
This system works just as well when desert camping and this tent is over 25°F / 14°C cooler than a conventional tent on a 77°F / 25°C day. Made from nylon with aluminum stakes for durability, it can handle the harsh sun and winds of the desert and it’s lightweight enough to backpack with too.
Putting up takes just a few minutes, as does taking it down, and once up there is a comfortable amount of space for two. It comes with one door, which can leave open with mesh for ventilation and there is a small vestibule space for storage.
If you’re looking for a tent to keep you cool in the desert on a budget, this is it!
Our next best tent for desert camping is the Quechua Pop Up Tent.
This tent is made with a white exterior to reflect sunlight and heat which is lined with a black interior that blocks out light.
When inside, you’ll experience 99% darkness, even in the midday sun, and it keeps you much cooler than a standard tent too. I’ve slept in this tent, and it’s awesome when it comes to staying cool and sleeping in – ideal of midday desert naps.
Being a pop-up tent, the setup couldn’t be easier. Just unfold it and peg it down and you’re done. Putting it away is a little trickier but once you get the hand of how to fold it, it takes about a minute.
On the side of the tent are two mesh panels that can be opened with guy ropes for extra ventilation and since it’s freestanding with bathtub floors, there is no chance of sand getting in.
It’s not just great for desert winds but also is super waterproof to protect you in a downpour, so you can camp with it anywhere. When packed away it does have a round shape, so it might be a little inconvenient to carry on a backpack.
If you plan on spending a week or more in the desert, then your best tent for desert camping is going to be the Teton Sports Mesa Canvas Tent.
This tent is an ideal size for 4 people, but you can fit six and has all the space needed for a home away from home in the desert.
It features high ceilings for great ventilation and room to stand. It’s made from canvas that is both waterproof, breathable, and windproof – making it ideal for the desert.
Canvas is also super durable, so this tent should last you a lifetime. Inside the tent, you’ll find storage areas for clothes and valuables, plus a load of space to relax in.
The tent doesn’t feature any darkness technology but the high ceiling and white exterior do a good job of keeping you cool. Plus the door is huge and the mesh closure gives loads of ventilation.
It’s quite a heavy tent, so you’ll want to pitch it near your vehicle, but despite its size, it is easy to put up, even on your own.
Another one of the best tents for desert camping, particularly in large groups, is the Coleman Instant Family Tent.
This tent is seriously spacious inside and is designed for 8 people, but 4/6 is the optimum comfort level. This makes the ceilings high for great airflow and there is enough space to chill out in during the desert heat.
The tent doesn’t feature darkness of heat-blocking technology but it does have 6 huge mesh windows and doors that will give you an amazing breeze while keeping you shaded from the sun – ideal for desert camping.
Setting up takes just 1 minute and once up the bathtub floors will block sand from being blown in and the tent can also handle wind and rain well too.
There is also loads of storage space inside, but due to its large size, it’s super heavy and you won’t want to carry it around backpacking.
The other best tent for desert camping if you’re on a budget is the Mountainsmith Morrison Tent.
This tent doesn’t have any darkness or cooling technology built into it but it does have two doors, two vestibules, and a bathtub floor. The bathtub floor will block sand from being blown in and if your open both doors, you will get a cross breeze that will bring the temperature down a lot.
Having two doors also makes access a piece of cake, and the vestibules are great for storage, even if they are a little small.
Pitching takes a few minutes and is the same technique as most dome tents, as is taking it down. It’s also pretty lightweight at 5.5 lbs, so an ideal choice for backpacking too.
If you’re heading on a solo desert trip to find yourself or to just enjoy the peace of being alone after COVID lockdown, then one of the best tents for desert camping to check out is the Kodiak Canvas Swag Tent.
At 6ft 8 inches long and 3 feet wide, this is a roomy one-man tent and features mesh sections on the top and at the head and foot end for ventilation.
This allows great airflow to keep you cool in the desert heat, and since it is made of canvas it breathes too so you stay comfortable. The tent is quick to pitch and it comes with a 2-inch foam mattress that you can use as a bedroll.
It is quite expensive though, and it’s heavy at 17.5 lbs for just one person to carry. And despite being roomy on the inside, there isn’t much storage space for a pack.
The Naturehike Mongar Backpacking Tent is the best lightweight tent for desert camping in the review.
Weighing in at just under 5lbs and with a small packed size, this tent is going to add much weight to or take up much space in your pack.
The reason it’s so light is due to the thin 20D nylon it’s made of. This makes it lighter but less durable, so be careful when pitching it as it can rip with ease. The tent features two doors for easy access, and when both are opened you’ll have all the ventilation you’ll need to stay cool in the desert.
There are also two vestibules for storing your packs and shoes which is a godsend since there is just enough room for two people inside. It’s good in wind and rain, plus the bathtub floors and mesh doors will block the sand while still giving all the breeze you need.
The Bushnell Shield Series Tent is the last of the best tents for desert camping in the lineup and is great for a large group or an extended desert stay.
The tent is built with heat shield technology that blocks the sun’s UV rays and reflects them back in order to keep the tent noticeably cooler. There’s are also AC vents, so if you’re going into the desert for a while, you can take an air conditioner with you and rig it up with this tent.
Setting it up takes 60 seconds as the poles are attached and all you need to do is unfold them. Once up there is loads of room, you can stand up straight, and there is ample space for storage too.
There are also mesh windows on every side, so you can b well ventilated and it will block any sand from being blown in too. The tent is a little heavy though at 30 lbs, so it’s definitely for car camping and not for backpacking.
It gets hot in the desert, hotter than any other environment on the planet, so the tent you choose to go desert camping with had better have good ventilation options. You’re likely to hide away in your tent between 11 am and 3 pm to avoid the midday sun and without good ventilation, you’re going to be a little sweaty.
If you’re going for a two or three-person tent, having one with two doors is the best way to have a good breeze. When it comes to larger tents, two doors and a load of mesh windows will be enough to keep you cool when resting during the day.
Quite a lot of the tents featured come with Darkness And Heat-Shield Technology built into the flysheet. This technology actively reflects the sun’s rays to keep you cool and the dark side helps you sleep in the mornings and be able to have a nap in the day.
This technology does work and opting for a tent with it is a good idea when heading into the desert. It’ll make your time spent chilling in the tent, a lot more chilled and it doesn’t cost much extra either.
The desert is, of course, filled with sand but it’s not just that that’s going to try and wander into your tent. You’re likely to have a few scorpions and snakes try and take a peek inside too. This is why picking a tent with sewn-in groundsheet and bathtub floors is a must.
This will block any sand from being blown in and if a snake or scorpion tries to wander in, it’ll be met with a wall that blocks it.
Also, be sure to close your tent doors whenever you’re not inside, at least the mesh part, and even when you’re taking a nap so you don’t wake up to a scary surprise snake or scorpion sitting next to you.
Your ideal tent for camping in the desert will have a lot of mesh on it. This includes the doors, windows, vents, and even the inside of the tent. Mesh is great because it’ll block out animals or insects along with dust and sand from getting inside the tent. And while doing so, still give you ample ventilation so you can stay cool inside your tent.
If the inner material is all mesh, then you even have the option of sleeping out without your flysheet for maximum ventilation and some awesome star gazing too.
What materials your tent is made out of is going to set the tone for durability and the weight of your tent. Thinner materials are less durable but a lot lighter and can make all the difference when backpacking but you’ll need to be careful with them as they can rip easily.
More durable, thicker materials like canvas or high-d nylon are great for longevity but are only worth it if you’re car camping as they will be way too heavy to carry.
The only kind of weather you’ll need to worry about in the desert is wind, and strong ones at that. Make sure the tent you pick can handle the wind and comes with guy ropes to secure it down properly.
To ensure your tent is secure on the sand, you will probably need to buy some tent stakes that are made for camping in the sand. The standard stakes that come with most tents will pull out of soft sand if you just blow on them, and to properly anchor your tent and guy ropes down for heavy winds, you’re going to need some tent stakes that will stay put.
If you forget this, a handy tip is to find some rocks and tie them onto your tent anchors and guy ropes to keep the tent in place.
The best tent for desert camping, if you’re on a budget, is the Ohnana Cool Rayve II Tent. This tent blocks out light and keeps you cool plus it’s lightweight and durable too. You can take it backpacking and it has all the features needed to handle desert winds, rain, sun, and sand.
The all-around best tent for desert camping is the Quechua Pop Up Tent. This tent provides 99% darkness in the midday sun, blocks heat, has great ventilation to keep cool, plus it’s about as convenient to put up as a tent can be. Setup takes 30 seconds, and once up it handles wind, rain, and sand with ease.
The best tent for desert camping of them all is the Teton Sports Mesa Canvas Tent. This tent is spacious, has high ceilings, is well ventilated, and being made of canvas is breathable, waterproof, and windproof. If you want your time in the desert to be as comfortable as possible, this is the best tent to go for.